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Preschool teachers’ perspective on how high noise levels at preschool affect children’s behavior

Journal article
Authors Kerstin Persson Waye
Sofie Fredriksson
Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb
Johanna Gustafsson
Irene van Kamp
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 14
Issue 3
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Language en
Subject categories Other Basic Medicine


Abstract Early-age exposure to noise may have long-term health implications of which we have little knowledge of today. Age-specific hearing, learning inadequate coping strategies, and alterations in biological stress regulatory responses could play a role in the long-term health impacts. In Sweden about half a million children in the age between 1–5 years attend preschool. The noise exposure at preschools is intermittent and unpredictable and levels reach up to 84 dB LAeq (time indoors) with maximum levels of 118 dB LAF, mostly due to child activity. To increase the overall understanding of the possible implications of preschool noise environments for children, this paper describes children’s behavioral and emotional reactions to and coping with their everyday sound environment from a teachers perspective. A postal questionnaire study performed in 2013–2014 with answers from 3,986 preschool teachers provided the data. Content analysis was combined with quantitative analysis. Eighty-two percent of the personnel considered that children’s behavior was affected rather or very much by preschool noise. The most prevalent behaviors were categorized into: be heard, be distracted, show negative internal emotions, crowd, avoid, withdraw, be exhausted, and learning. The quantitative analyses confirmed an association between the perceived loudness and noise annoyance at preschool and affirmative reporting on noise affecting the children´s behavior. Age of the personnel, with the youngest age group reporting noise related behavior less often, and age distribution of the class, with 1–5 years old seeming less affected by noise, were also indicated, while pedagogic orientation was not a significant factor. Future studies should address the long-term health effects of these behaviors.

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